China Covid-19 vaccine may be ready for public in November: Official

Visitors at a booth displaying a coronavirus vaccine candidate from Sinovac Biotech at the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services on Sept 5 in Beijing. PHOTO: REUTERS
Visitors at a booth displaying a coronavirus vaccine candidate from Sinovac Biotech at the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services on Sept 5 in Beijing. PHOTO: REUTERS

At least 3 vaccines in final stage of clinical trials already offered to essential workers

BEIJING • Coronavirus vaccines being developed in China may be ready for use by the general public as early as November, an official with the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

China has four Covid-19 vaccines in the final stage of clinical trials. At least three of those have already been offered to essential workers under an emergency-use programme launched in July.

Phase 3 clinical trials were proceeding smoothly and the vaccines could be ready for the general public in November or December, CDC chief biosafety expert Wu Guizhen said in an interview with state TV late on Monday.

Professor Wu, who said she has experienced no abnormal symptoms in recent months after taking an experimental vaccine herself in April, did not specify which vaccines she was referring to.

"I was injected with the vaccine in April as a trial volunteer. I feel good right now," Prof Wu said, adding that the vaccine could remain effective for one to three years.

A unit of state pharmaceutical giant China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and US-listed, China-based Sinovac Biotech are developing the three vaccines under the state's emergency use programme.

A fourth Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Chinese vaccine company CanSino Biologics was approved for use by the Chinese military in June.

Sinopharm said in July that its vaccine could be ready for public use by the end of this year after the conclusion of Phase 3 trials.

Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm had even put their vaccine candidates on display at a trade fair in Beijing this month.

A Sinovac spokesman told AFP this month that "tens of thousands" of people had voluntarily taken its vaccine, including 90 per cent of its employees and their families - between 2,000 and 3,000 people.

Global vaccine-makers are racing to develop an effective vaccine against the virus which has killed more than 929,000 people. There are currently nine vaccine candidates in late-stage human trials.

 
 
 

In another development, a Chinese-developed Covid-19 vaccine candidate has become the first nasal spray for the disease to begin human testing, Caixin Global reported yesterday.

The University of Hong Kong (HKU) announced last week that clinical trials for the spray had been approved by China's National Medical Products Administration.

The vaccine has been co-developed by HKU, Xiamen University as well as vaccine-maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise.

Sinopharm said in July that its vaccine could be ready for public use by the end of this year after the conclusion of Phase 3 trials.

Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm had even put their vaccine candidates on display at a trade fair in Beijing this month.

A fourth Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Chinese vaccine company CanSino Biologics was approved for use by the Chinese military in June.

The vaccine has become the 10th candidate from China and the 32nd in the world to proceed into the human testing phase, according to the World Health Organisation's list of candidate vaccines. It is the only nasal spray on the list that has of Wednesday moved to clinical trials.

Scientists hope that a vaccine delivered via the nose would be more effective in preventing infection by the coronavirus, which spreads through the respiratory tract, Caixin Global reported.

Microbiologist Chen Honglin at HKU told Caixin that if a new wave of the Covid-19 outbreak arrives together with influenza, the nasal spray will be "the easiest, most economical and practical long-term pathway".

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2020, with the headline 'China vaccine may be ready for public in November: Official'. Print Edition | Subscribe